Smoked Haddock Royale with Asparagus Spears and Morel Mushrooms
by Derek Johnstone, Head Chef at Borthwick Castle

This year’s asparagus season is drawing to a close – and I’m clinging on to those last few weeks for as long as I can! Scottish asparagus is just unbeatable, and over the last few years I’ve served up these vibrant green spears in just about every way you can imagine.

I’m always striving to be as creative as possible in the Castle kitchen, but at home, it’s usually the simple ideas which turn out best – including those uncomplicated dishes that we all remember from our childhood. As a wee lad, my favourite breakfast was boiled egg and soldiers. I’d get stuck in by dunking the crusty, buttery bread into the egg yolk, getting toast crumbs all over the place, making a mess without a care – just enjoying good, simple food, as you should do at any age, but especially when you’re young.

With friends round for brunch in the garden a couple of weeks ago, I decided to try out a more ‘grown-up’ twist on boiled egg and soldiers: serving up smoked haddock Royale with the very last of this season’s asparagus – perfect for dipping – and a generous portion of morel mushrooms.

Even if you’re not keen on mushrooms, give morels a try; with their meaty texture and earthy, nutty flavour, morels have managed to convert more than a few mushroom-haters. Still unconvinced? Just swap those mushrooms for peppers, onions or tomatoes.

Duck eggs are a real treat and complement the haddock perfectly, as I’ve used in the photo here, but chicken eggs work just as well.

This dish, to me, is a celebration of early summer. What the weather will do over the next few weeks is anyone’s guess, but I hope this goes down as well with your friends as it did with mine. Enjoy!

Serves 4 people


For the poached smoked haddock:

  • 80g smoked haddock
  • 200ml full fat milk
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

For the egg Royale mixture:

  • 4x large duck eggs
  • 200ml smoked haddock milk
  • 30g full fat cream cheese
  • 20g chives
  • 5g Gentleman’s relish
  • Salt and pepper, to season

For the truffle vinaigrette:

  • 12ml truffle oil
  • 20ml rapeseed oil
  • 10ml Champagne vinegar
  • 2g sea salt

For the asparagus spears:

  • 12x asparagus spears, trimmed
  • Salt, to season

For the morel mushrooms:

  • 12 small morel mushrooms, washed
  • 10g salted butter
  • 10ml rapeseed oil
  • A pinch of salt


  • Summer herbs


For the poached smoked haddock:

1. Place the smoked haddock in a pan and cover with the milk, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer.

2. Once the milk has reached simmering point, remove the pan from the heat and allow the haddock to cool in the milk.

3. Once the haddock is cool, strain through a fine sieve, keeping both the milk and the haddock separate.

For the egg Royale mixture:

1. Using an egg cutter, tap the top of the egg shells, allowing you to take the top of the shell off neatly. Remove the top of the shell and empty the egg into a clean bowl.

2. Separate the yolks from the white (whites aren’t needed for this recipe) and combine the egg yolks with the other ingredients.

3. Blitz using a hand blender, then pass through a sieve.

4. Place the empty egg shells into the egg cups, and divide the poached smoked haddock between the four shells.

5. Pour the egg Royale mixture into the egg shells, covering the smoked haddock, then place the four filled egg shells into a steamer for 10 minutes, or until set. Alternatively, cook in the oven at 130°C for 20 minutes.

For the truffle vinaigrette:

1. Combine all of the ingredients and mix well.

For the asparagus spears:

1. Place a pan of water onto the stove. Add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.

2. Place the asparagus spears into the boiling water, and blanch until tender.

3. Remove the asparagus from the water and drizzle with the truffle vinaigrette.

For the morel mushrooms:

1. Place the oil and butter in a pan. Once melted, add the morels.

2. Cook until soft and hot, then season with salt.

To assemble the dish:

Remove the smoked haddock egg Royale from the oven/steamer and place on a serving plate. Serve with warm asparagus spears topped with morel mushrooms. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, and garnish with summer herbs.